Tuesday, December 31, 2013

His Hope

The night is mother of the day,
The winter of the spring;
And ever upon old decay
The greenest mosses cling.
Behind the cloud the sunshine lurks,
Through showers the sunbeams fall;
For God, who loveth all His works,
Has left His hope with all.

Whittier

Monday, December 2, 2013

Man the Giver?

The passage in Luke 18 continues. depicting man as the great giver (?!).

And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 

And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?” 

But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” 


Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You.” 

So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.” (Luke 18:24-30).

You can't out-give God. 

Man is not the great giver; our generosity does not even begin to overwhelm the One Who came up with the idea in the first place and gave us everything we have and everything we try to give and feel so good about ourselves. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

As a Little Child

A good parent leads his children towards independence, so that the child can one day become a good parent himself and produce more good parents, and the cycle never ends. And God is the best Parent, right? So of course He guides His children toward the ability to be independent, too? 

That's where it gets interesting. Yes, we are to become spiritual parents in a sense: "For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord," (1 Corinthians 4:17a). But God has no grandchildren. We all remain His children forever - His little children, if you will.

"Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to Him and said, 'Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it'" (Luke 18:15-17). You have to be childlike. But what does that look like? Well, let's look at the very next verses; Jesus is going to teach us via opposites. 

Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" So Jesus said to him, "Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And those who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?” But He said, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” 

Little children came to Jesus to receive, to be blessed by Him. They knew they were the needy ones. But the rich young ruler came to Jesus for an assignment, apparently thinking that God needed him to do some good work. The rich young ruler felt good about himself; he felt important. I'm sure that when he said what a good law-keeper he had been, he expected Jesus to be kind of amazed and to congratulate him - he wasn't expecting to be told to become poor and follow in faith.

Little children are typically unafraid to ask grown-ups for what they need, and they expect us to be happy to give them what they ask for. Do you see God as a giving Father that you desperately need or as some religious icon that demands a certain kind of life from you?

Friday, November 22, 2013

One More Miracle

God has worked miracles in my life. The fact that I am breathing and thinking and typing this post defies what the doctor thought several months ago. But I have recently realized another great gift God gave me. For the first few months after I woke up, God mercifully held Satan back from major temptation and major emotional attack of any kind. For the longest time, the only sin I could think of that I struggled with was that of not praying without ceasing. 

Now things are much more normal. God recently allowed the devil to return to some of his old temptations as well as some of his old trials. But "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy." And He is "the God of all comforts." So although my life is much more "normal" now, God didn't give me to the wolves by any means. He enabled me to soon conquer the temptations (at least temporarily) and blessed me with sweet Heaven-hugs.

One of those was the sermon this past Sunday out of Luke 10:30-34. A man went on a journey and was wounded. As he lay there by the side of the road, he had to have thought of it as a bad thing. He probably wondered why. But then the good Samaritan came along and poured oil in his wounds and took care of him.

Oil, in the Bible, is a picture of the Holy Spirit. So whatever wound you are dealing with now is actually a gift, an opportunity for a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I don't claim to fully understand it, but the thought does carry comfort.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What If God Says No?

We pray for things we want. So, what do we do if God says no? Can He say no? What if we're "the persistent widow" and are faithful in prayer? Then He has to say yes, right? I used to kind of think that, but Sunday's sermon made me rethink it.

Jesus asked three times not to have to go to the Cross, and He still had to go.

Paul asked three times for the thorn in the flesh to be removed, and God didn't take it away.

God works in mysterious ways, and we'll understand it better by and by. :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Man of Sorrows

Man of sorrows Lamb of God
By His own betrayed
The sin of man and wrath of God
Has been on Jesus laid

Silent as He stood accused
Beaten mocked and scorned
Bowing to the Father's will
He took a crown of thorns

Sent of heaven God's own Son
To purchase and redeem
And reconcile the very ones
Who nailed Him to that tree

See the stone is rolled away
Behold the empty tomb
Hallelujah God be praised
He's risen from the grave

Friday, November 1, 2013

Teach Me Thy Way!

Teach me Thy way, O Lord, teach me Thy way!
Thy guiding grace afford, teach me Thy way!
Help me to walk aright, more by faith, less by sight;
Lead me with heav’nly light, teach me Thy way!

When I am sad at heart, teach me Thy way!
When earthly joys depart, teach me Thy way!
In hours of loneliness, in times of dire distress,
In failure or success, teach me Thy way!

When doubts and fears arise, teach me Thy way!
When storms o’erspread the skies, teach me Thy way!
Shine through the cloud and rain, through sorrow, toil and pain;
Make Thou my pathway plain, teach me Thy way!

Long as my life shall last, teach me Thy way!
Where’er my lot be cast, teach me Thy way!
Until the race is run, until the journey’s done,
Until the crown is won, teach me Thy way!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween, God's Holiday

One year, I was a pumpkin for Halloween. Another year, I was superwoman. But I only know that from pictures; I have only one real Halloween memory - being privately a little scared of the "witches" who came to our door for candy.

You see, when I was very young God graciously directed my parents' attention to the satanic origins of Halloween; and we stopped celebrating it.  For years I only thought of it as the devil's holiday.


However, stop and think with me a moment. When Satan claims as his something that belongs to God, is God really just going to pretend not to notice? And who do all the days of the year belong to?

Every day belongs to God, of course; and it recently came to my attention that when Satan tried to steal October 31st, he did little more than play into God's hand. Because naturally, when Satan picks a fight with God, he can hardly win! Or even come close!

"According to ATS [the American Tract Society], there are more conversions to Christ through the use of tracts during Halloween than there are during any other holiday. ATS is contacted by hundreds of people each year who say that their faith began with a Halloween tract. The ministry also says that each of these contacts also represents another 100 people who put their faith in Christ but just didn't make it known to the organization." Here's the article.

I am still grateful that my parents shielded me from the dark side of Halloween. And I would encourage Christian parents to shield their children. But if Satan has his people out tonight, and if there is any way we can reach out to them (without getting pulled in), it seems like a perfect time for it!

Friday, October 18, 2013

He Who Safely Keepeth

He who safely keepeth,
Slumbers not, nor sleepeth;
Though by all the world forsaken,
Wherefore should I fear?
That which He hath spoken
Never can be broken,
Who shall harm the trusting heart 
When He is near?

He will keep me ever,
Where no pow'r can sever
From my heart, the love that hides me
In His secret place.
There in faith abiding,
All to Him confiding,
Through His Spirit I am sealed
An heir of grace.

~ Lyman Cuyler (aka Fanny Crosby)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

An Angry God?

It was 1741. Jonathan Edwards was preaching a GOOD sermon about the coming judgement, a sermon entitled "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Preachers wrote down their sermons back in those days, so we still have this particular sermon today; I've read it, which is why I can say confidently that it was good.

However, the phrase seems to have stuck and to have colored our view of the Almighty. Many think of Him as an angry God. They think of Him as quick to anger and sadly deficient in love (Jonah 4:3).

Sin does anger God; but He is hardly some cruel tyrant, intently watching us and just hoping somebody'll mess up so He can give them a good thrashing and His arms a good workout.

Here is what Jonah 4:3 really says:

"You are a gracious and merciful God, 
slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, 
One who relents from doing harm."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

October . . .

Happy October, everyone! :) It's a special month for me. Not only is it part of my favorite movie, October Baby.


It's also part of a book I really like, October Song, of whom I recently got to meet the author.



What's more, it's the month of my accident. 


Why does that make it special? Well, let me explain. A lot of people don't like storms, even in nature. And while I'm not saying I like unnatural storms - I definitely don't - I do absolutely love the natural kind! They really show how big God is, and they seem SO happy to me! Good smells, sounds, everything! I know there can be disastrous storms, but I've not been around for very many at all.

For the Christian, no storm is disastrous, but every storm is just one more thing God is busy working for our good! So one day, we will thank Him for it, as hard as that may be to imagine right now. Some are calling my accident a "storm." It was certainly difficult for my family, and there are things about my life now that I could wish were different. But I already know a little (not all!) of why He allowed it.

1. This summer one of the times I gave my testimony at camp, I found out later that a girl trusted Christ that night.
2. He showed my family the body of Christ in action like they had never quite seen it before.
3. He showered me with expressions of His love so that I could never, ever doubt it. 
a. the ambulance right behind me when I wrecked
b. a whole plethora of cards, letters, and visitors - bringing flowers, CDs, and my favorite ice cream
c. thousands praying for me from at least 4 continents, including people I didn't know
d. et cetera, et cetera!

I get to see life through different eyes, and I know more about how to interact with disabled people (#1 - they're still people!). Strange as it may sound, I'm very thankful for my accident and feel like I have a rare privilege. I should add that it is one that I hope nobody who reads this gets to share with me! :) Anyway . . . that's why October is such a special month for me. :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bending Over Backwards

 
"I'm not bending over backwards for them!" Have you ever heard someone say that?

It's probably not healthy to do this in relationships to get people to like me quite as much as I do, but isn't that the spirit of the Golden Rule? And doesn't our Father want us unified? Isn't a good friendship worth a little effort?

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
Loving favor rather than silver and gold (Proverbs 22:1).

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Cure for Loneliness

At church when I was fourteen, and again when I was eighteen/nineteen, there were no other teen girls. I was the only one! That isn't too unusual, but to hear some people talk you would think I would have really struggled with loneliness. Now that I've thought about it, I realize that loneliness was never an issue for me. At all!
 
I always was friends with everyone at church. I tend to be rather quiet and un-needy, so when I enter a room with a bunch of people, I usually try to talk to the person who looks the most neglected and needing a friend - whether or not I know them - and be a friend to them, trying to cheer them up. The result was normally an immediate new friend, and honestly, a friend is a friend no matter how old or young!
 
So if you're feeling lonely and want someone to reach out to you, try doing the reaching out yourself and see what happens!

There's No Way!

I was sitting in the bus, riding home from a day of therapy and silently asking God to mend some seemingly impossibly-broken relationships between close friends. I felt deeply discouraged, hopeless really. In the middle of my prayer, I said, "God, there's just no way!"
 
And then, it was like God softly whispered, "But I am the Way!"
 
There is a God, so there must be a way!
 
I don't think it's time to give up yet. :)
 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

My (Recent) Testimony

Thanks to any of you who have prayed for my family and I since my car accident last Halloween! Many people have asked me whether I've had any depression, which would be typical for someone who's just recently had a brain injury. And while I have gotten upset for a few minutes a couple of times (like everyone else), really I'm full of joy, and much happier than I was before my accident!
 
Before my accident, I met weekly with an older woman to get her counsel in dealing with the bitterness I was struggling with. As much as I've tried to, I can't remember what I was bitter about, but needless to say, I'm certainly not bitter about anything now!
 
Before my accident, I had also just started attending Celebrate Recovery to get help with a lustful addiction I had struggled with for more than a decade. God took that away through my accident, too; and since I woke up from my coma a few months ago, I haven't even wanted to go back!
 
I feel grateful for how God has used my accident to cleanse me of sin, show His power, bring His people together in prayer, show those people His ability and eagerness to answer prayer, surround my family with His care, and every other way He has used it! I never really expected God to find that much use for me; but I wanted Him to, and I'm glad He did.
 
As to what He's taught me through all of this, I would say it's joy. God is a good God, and everything He does is good. That includes what happened to me. I used to think that car accidents were always bad things, but now I know that at least mine was a good thing.

God's been showing me that since He controls everything and He only does good things, I can have joy in all days of the year, all circumstances of the day, and all people of the world. There is nothing for me to be anything other than happy about!

Great Is Thy Faithfulness!
 

Monday, July 8, 2013

African, Asian, European, Native American . . .

So I've always known that I had European blood (from England, Germany, and Hungary on Dad's side). Poppy seed kuchen, anyone?

And I've pretty much always known that I had Cherokee blood from Mom's side.
 
But lately I've made some new and very happy discoveries.

Pappaw and Mammaw (Mom's parents) have always told us that we are descended from the tribe of Manasseh, so I always knew I had a little Jewish blood, which is nice enough. But then I started thinking - who was Manasseh's mother? If you don't know, you probably at least know the name of his father or brother. Does "Ephraim & Manasseh" ring a bell? And their dad's name was Joseph, right? Well, who did Joseph marry? An Egyptian woman! So that makes me a little African!

But there's more. What continent is Israel in? Think about it now. It's not Europe. It's not Africa. That leaves Asia; so I'm part Asian!

As far as I know, I'm not related to any Antarctic explorers, Australian Aborigines, or South Americans, but I'm a sister to Jesus' siblings in all those groups! And with having biological relations to people in four of the world's seven continents, I feel like Dad's word for it - Cosmopolitan - is a very good one. And I'm glad it applies to me. :)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Thirsty?

 
John lived in the wilderness and baptized in a huge river, the river Jordan. And right after Jesus was baptized in that same river, God led Him into the wilderness to be tempted.

This seems typical of the Christian experience. A lot of times, life can feel like a wilderness. However, God always has a river for us!


"Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools" (Psalm 84:6).

Friday, June 28, 2013

It's IMPOSSIBLE! Really?

"Don't the Bible say we must love everybody?"
"O, the Bible! To be sure, it says a great many such things; but, then, nobody ever thinks of doing them. You know, Eva, nobody does."

~ Uncle Tom's Cabin

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sunrise, Sunset

I've been thinking. . . .

Jesus is the Son, right? And His death is a beautiful thing for lots of us, isn't it - perhaps THE most beautiful thing? And the earth was dark when He died, and it was very early morning on Sunday - at the time of sunrise - when He rose from the grave.

So what are sunrises and sunsets if not pictures of the most beautiful story ever told? A beautiful daily reminder . . .
 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Camp


A few weeks ago, I got to spend some time at the camp where I used to work! It was girls' week, and I had the opportunity to give my testimony to the girls. Then all day the next day, I went with them to meals, morning worship, crafts, recreation, Bible study, et cetera. It was great fun!
 
Two of the staff told me they had been having a big pity party until I gave my testimony, but now they were ready to be happy. And one of the counselors said that one of her campers, who had had a rough childhood, looked at her significantly as if it helped her when I said, "No physical or emotional pain is going to last forever if you know Jesus and are going to Heaven."
 
That afternoon I got to help a little bit with dinner. That evening I attended the campers' talent show and ice cream party, and hung out in a room with most of them until midnight talking, laughing, and playing  mafia. The girls loaded me with gifts - 2 dolls they made in crafts, a handmade bracelet, and a heart-shaped rock one girl found while walking.
 
It was an even greater gift to get to hang out with the girls, the staff, and the mission team. But the greatest gift in my time there was feeling like God used me to be a small blessing to some people! I guess, like people tell me, "God isn't finished with me yet."
 
Pray with me for the camp - for the director and his family, for the staff, for the mission teams that come help, and for the campers. Pray for God to ransom souls, and to work mightily in those who are already His.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Run a 5K!

This was my goal; it was on my official bucket list. After I came home from the hospital, many of my friends and family joined me as I "rolled" in one. :) As a matter of fact, the many familiar faces on that day, along with the sunshine and fresh air, seemed to be very healthy for me. It was around that time that I started to REALLY wake up. It was just a happy day. :)
 
Then on Memorial Day, Chick-fil-A (where I used to work) had a Spicy 5K for Hospice, which I was glad to "roll" in. (I walked across the finish line.) The winner, running at less than 16 minutes, was from Uganda. I got the pleasure of greeting him in the African trade language.
 
So my experience says that a 5K is always a happy thing, and of course it's healthy - very. So why not?
 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Starfish Thrower

A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!"

The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,

 "Well, I made a difference for that one."

The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved. - adapted from the Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I Am Not Forgotten

The other night, my dad took me to a Watoto concert where African children sang and danced. singing the praises of our great Lord! It was great!The song that touched me the most was "I Am Not Forgotten."

Monday, April 29, 2013

I Will Not Forget Thee

Sweet is the promise “I will not forget thee,”
Nothing can molest or turn my soul away;
E’en though the night be dark within the valley,
Just beyond is shining an eternal day.

Refrain:
I will not forget thee or leave thee,
In My hands I’ll hold thee,
In My arms I’ll fold thee,
I will not forget thee or leave thee;
I am thy Redeemer, I will care for thee.
 
Trusting the promise “I will not forget thee,”
Onward I will go with songs of joy and love,
Though earth despise me,
Though my friends forsake me,
I shall be remembered in myhome above.

Refrain
 
When at the golden portals I am standing,
All my tribulations, all my sorrows past;
How sweet to hear the bless├Ęd proclamation,
“Enter, faithful servant, welcome home at last.”

Refrain
 
~ Charles Gabriel

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

So Much in Common

There is something I don't understand. It is why any Christian would not get along with any other Christian. I didn't understand that before my accident, and I understand it less now. God loved each of us when we were His enemies; and now that we are His friends, He loves us even more! I don't understand how you can love somebody more than your love in dying for people, but I guess it's possible! :)

The Bible calls on us to "love one another," so every true Christian, I'm sure, at least wants to and cares when he does not. Also, if we don't get along because of our sin, we are clearly in the wrong and are the ones that need to change. Or if it's because of someone else's sin, we should forgive like God forgave us. Have you read the parable of the man who was forgiven his great debt and would not forgive another man's little debt? We had a huge debt which God forgave, and other people's debts to us can never begin to compare!

We have so much in common! We are all in the same family (human) and some of us are more closely related. We all have the same needs. We need God to take care of us, other people to pray, angels to protect, and food and water and air to keep us alive. We all call the same planet home, and some of us the same city, state, country, or space shuttle. :) And for Christians, there is more. In fact, we are all brothers and sisters with the same Father and the same Guidebook and Home.So every Sunday, church is like a family reunion; and Christian family squabbles are just as offensive to our Father as regular family squabbles are to our earthly parents.

I used to fight a lot with one of my brothers (he is one of my best friends now), and my parents tried everything they could think of to try to help us. They gave us paper, and said to keep a tally of all the nice things we said to each other, and said that they would take whoever said more to Golden Corral as a reward. Then they took us both. Regularly, they had us sit next to each other silently for a long time and hold hands. One time they washed our mouths out with soap. Just so you know, none of their methods were successful at completely curing us from arguing.  God did that when He was ready! But it gives an example of the lengths humans will go to in order to help their children get along. That is how much God cares when we don't get along with our Christian brothers and sisters! If you don't, and you are my friend, I am afraid for what He might try in order to change you.

If the reason you don't get along is not because of either of your sin, I hope you can see how petty that is. And I hope you can find it easy to say sorry, put away grudges, forgive, or whatever you need to do to change your relationship for the better. If it is because of someone's sin, I've already ponted out to you what the Bible says. If you don't care that you don't get along and don't want to change, I seriously doubt whether you have ever tuly encountered the love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace of Jesus. If you think otherwise, maybe you think wrong or maybe you can explain to me why I am wrong. An explanation would help me greatly, because I really don't understand.

One last thing: I hope as you read this you were thinking more of yourself than of anyone else. If not, maybe it would be wisest to put these things into practice by forgiving that person and reread it for your own benefit. I will just keep praying for those of you who don't; and want to remind those people of the great love that God has for them and that if I were to meet them, I would try to love them no matter what they said or did to me. And I know for a fact that I am not perfect (I am not in Heaven) and I am not the strongest person alive. I cannot even walk right now without something stable to hold onto with both hands!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Times of Suffering

I used to think car accidents were bad things. Until I had one. I am reminded of a similar circumstance when I was in Bible college. All my friends got their summer assignments together at my first choice, where I had worked the previous summer. I was assigned instead to my second choice, "alone." Although I was a little depressed, my RA encouraged me, "At times like these, we to get to eagerly await the wonderful surprises that God has in store." Looking back, that summer was when I got to apply everything that I had learned, and it was the best part of my year!

Similarly, God used something as "bad" (good) as a car accident to bless me. I don't remember that day or the months immediately following, so then none of the pain. All I know all the good things that came out of it. Some of these include the following:  a greater appreciation for the passages about Jesus healing people, more in common with those people, the cessation of an old addiction, greater love for all people, greater appreciation for and anticipation of each day, the name of someone I don't remember ever meeting or hearing about, but who needs prayer, a greater burden for prayer since there is little else I can do, and probably other blessings I have yet to think about! Oh, like now, I am allowed to have dessert at more meals each day! :)  Because, apparently, I need to gain weight and say "Ho, ho, ho." 

I am reminded of the song, "This Good Day" by Fernado Ortega: It seems to match how I currently feel about life. I hope my life can be an encouragement to someone who is having a physical or emotional "time of suffering" that God loves us, and He has a good purpose for everything He sends!

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for the good to those who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.

Here is the song:  http://youtu.be/1rbKumMtnuA